Sex workers can give disabled people the chance to be touched in a non-medical way, perhaps for the first time in their lives.

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As you all may know, I have been an admirer of Tuppy Owens’ work for a long time now.

Tuppy Owens (b. 1944) is a sex therapist, sexuality campaigner, and writer. She has a degree in zoology and has worked as an ecologist. But, in 1974, Tuppy began lecturing on the subject of sex, and she has been active in sex education, sex therapy, and public health ever since!

Since the ’70s, Tuppy has done some truly amazing, groundbreaking things. She developed some of the first publicly available instructions that visually depicted how to put a condom on securely (incredible!!) and offered safer sex advice during the early days of global HIV. In 2005, she founded the Sexual Health and Disability Alliance (SHADA), which brings together health professionals interested in sex and ability.

Today, through the magic of Twitter, I came across a new article from Tuppy – “Sex workers giving disabled people a chance to live out their dreams.” Here’s a snippet:

A forthcoming Channel 4 documentary, Can Have Sex Will Have Sex, features the sex lives of four disabled people, one of whom loses his virginity to an escort who has been hired by his mother.

The programme has been labelled “controversial”, but many mothers call the sex and disability helpline, which I run, worried that their disabled son is physically unable to masturbate and desperately needs an outlet. Hiring a sex worker is one option…

Publicity around the film The Sessions, which explores a man with an iron lung losing his virginity to a “sexual surrogate” has raised awareness and acceptance of disabled people paying for sex. I hope this might extend to an acceptance of disabled people as sexual partners, and sex workers being wonderful people.

I really love the idea of sex workers giving disabled people the chance to be touched in a non-medical way, perhaps for the first time in their lives, to be held in a warm pair of arms and have their sexual dreams respected and lived out. (here)

Take a moment to read Tuppy’s entire piece. It’s not very long, but – like the rest of her efforts – it really works to highlight the commonly overlooked intersection between dis/ability and sexuality… and the ways in which sex workers perform incredible caring work.

Reprinted from – Critical Commentary on Adult Production [2010 – 2014]

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